How to cite a YouTube video

To cite a video from YouTube or another video sharing site, you need an in-text citation with a corresponding reference listing the uploader, the publication date, the video title, and the URL.

The format varies depending on the citation style you use. The most common styles are APA, MLA, and Chicago style.

Use the interactive example generator below to explore the APA and MLA formats.

Where to find the information for a YouTube citation

All the key information needed to cite a YouTube video is displayed below the video itself on the site:

  • The video title
  • The uploader’s username
  • The upload date
  • The timestamp of the relevant part of the video
  • The URL (it’s best to use the one given when you click on “Share”)

If the uploader’s name is not the same as their username, or if you need information about the video’s original creator, this information may be available in the description or in the video itself.

The image below shows where to find the relevant information below the video on YouTube; other video sites tend to follow a similar layout.

APA YouTube

Citing a video in APA Style

In an APA Style reference entry for a video, the person or organization that uploaded the video is always listed in the author position, even if they didn’t create the video. The video title appears in italics, followed by “Video” in square brackets.

A timestamp may be used in the in-text citation to show the location of a particular quote.

APA format Uploader last name, Initials. or Organization Name. (Year, Month Day). Title of video [Video]. Website Name. URL
Reference entry Scribbr. (2021, February 16). Primary vs. secondary sources: The differences explained | Scribbr [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/CPQ95B95bWE
In-text citation (Scribbr, 2021, 1:15)

Note that if the uploader’s real name is known and is different from the name of their channel, both should be included—the real name first, then the channel name in brackets.

Real name and channel name
Stevens, M. [Vsauce].

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Citing a video in MLA Style

An MLA Works Cited entry for an online video begins with the name of the video’s author (the person who created it). The uploader is listed later, after the name of the site. The video title appears in quotation marks, the site name in italics.

In the in-text citation, list the author’s last name and the timestamp of the relevant part of the video.

MLA format Author’s last name, First name. “Video Title.” Website, uploaded by Uploader, Day Month Year, URL.
Works Cited entry Liu, Jessica. “Primary vs. Secondary Sources: The Differences Explained | Scribbr.” YouTube, uploaded by Scribbr, 16 Feb. 2021, https://youtu.be/CPQ95B95bWE.
In-text citation (Liu 1:15)

Videos with the same author and uploader

When the person who created the video (the author) is the same person who uploaded it, MLA recommends starting the Works Cited entry with the title so as not to repeat the name in both the author and the uploader position.

This means that the in-text citation for a video like this begins with the title, shortened if it is a long title.

MLA format Video Title.” Website, uploaded by Uploader, Day Month Year, URL.
Works Cited entry “The Odd Number Problem.” YouTube, uploaded by Vsauce, 29 July 2020, https://youtu.be/U6VBV4QUMu0.
In-text citation (“Odd Number Problem” 10:35)

Citing a video in Chicago Style

To cite an online video in Chicago style, include a bibliography entry listing full details of the video, and a footnote where you cite it in the text.

The bibliography entry lists the uploader as the author. It shows the video title in quotation marks, as well as specifying that the source is a video and stating its total length.

The footnote lists the uploader and a shortened version of the video title, as well as a timestamp if it’s necessary to highlight the location of a specific part of the video.

Chicago format Uploader Name. “Video Title.” Month Day, Year. Video, Length. URL.
Bibliography entry Scribbr. “Primary vs. Secondary Sources: The Differences Explained | Scribbr.” February 16, 2021. Video, 4:12. https://youtu.be/CPQ95B95bWE.
Footnote 1. Scribbr, “Primary vs. Secondary Sources,” 1:15.

If you don’t include a bibliography, the first note for each video includes full publication details.

Chicago also offers an author-date citation style. An example of how to cite YouTube videos in this style can be found here.

Frequently asked questions about citations

What are the main elements of a YouTube citation?

The main elements included in a YouTube video citation across APA, MLA, and Chicago style are the name of the author/uploader, the title of the video, the publication date, and the URL.

The format in which this information appears is different for each style.

All styles also recommend using timestamps as a locator in the in-text citation or footnote.

How do I cite a source with no author?

In APA, MLA, and Chicago style citations for sources that don’t list a specific author (e.g. many websites), you can usually list the organization responsible for the source as the author.

If the organization is the same as the website or publisher, you shouldn’t repeat it twice in your reference:

  • In APA and Chicago, omit the website or publisher name later in the reference.
  • In MLA, omit the author element at the start of the reference, and cite the source title instead.

If there’s no appropriate organization to list as author, you will usually have to begin the citation and reference entry with the title of the source instead.

How do I cite a source with no page numbers?

When you want to cite a specific passage in a source without page numbers (e.g. an e-book or website), all the main citation styles recommend using an alternate locator in your in-text citation. You might use a heading or chapter number, e.g. (Smith, 2016, ch. 1)

In APA Style, you can count the paragraph numbers in a text to identify a location by paragraph number. MLA and Chicago recommend that you only use paragraph numbers if they’re explicitly marked in the text.

For audiovisual sources (e.g. videos), all styles recommend using a timestamp to show a specific point in the video when relevant.

Which citation style should I use?

Check if your university or course guidelines specify which citation style to use. If the choice is left up to you, consider which style is most commonly used in your field.

Other more specialized styles exist for certain fields, such as Bluebook and OSCOLA for law.

The most important thing is to choose one style and use it consistently throughout your text.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
March 17, 2021 at 1:31 PM

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